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Catching up with... Sam Toft

We catch up with Brighton-based artist Sam Toft.

Sam Toft with her lovely dogs, Moses and Stanley Philpot! When were you at Kingston and what did you study?

I joined in 1984 on the Business Studies with French BSc(Hons) four-year sandwich degree. After passing the first year I transferred to the Applied Social Science (labour studies) BSc(Hons).

Why did you choose Kingston?

I wanted to be near to London but not in it. I had romantic ideas of living in Surbiton and living the 'Good Life'.

Where are you from originally and where do you live now?

I'm originally from Staffordshire and now settled in Brighton. It's where I was born to be, I'm sure of it. I fit in here.

Sum up your memories of your time at Kingston in three words.

Growing up quick.

Did you have a favourite lecturer?

Oh dear, what a bad memory I have. I remember their faces and could probably draw them for you! The sociology tutor who supervised my dissertation was very encouraging.

Are you still in touch with anyone from Kingston?

I have recently been in touch with a couple of people via Facebook, but would love to attend a reunion. Anyone know of Carolyn Crapco, or Robin Bagshaw?

What did you expect to do after graduating, and are you doing it?

I had always wanted to join a travelling circus or work in a post office. I ended up working in the civil service in Kingston. Seven hours and 12 minutes a day, flexitime. Plenty of time for dreaming.

What are you doing now?

I am an artist. My work sells well internationally, published as posters, greetings cards, calendars, limited edition prints and so on. I am happy to earn enough money to be a part-time puppeteer and aspiring short story writer, as well as living in a nice house by the sea.

What's your greatest achievement?

Training my big dog to woof on command. The little one does the cutest high five, but the woof is impressive.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Appreciate that beautiful skin.

What last made you laugh?

A lovely one man puppet show I saw at Theatre Royal last week called Alvin the Sputnik. I laughed and cried actually. Marvellous. What talented people there are in this world.

What's your ideal weekend?

My usual weekend consists of several long walks on the South Downs with my dogs, a spot of gardening, a couple of yoga classes, relaxed time with friends involving cakes and coffee, a bit of patchwork, at least one early night and a good book. My ideal weekend would be pretty much the same, perhaps with a Sunday lunch in a lovely country pub, a few hours perusing the plants in a garden centre, and a lie in, with Matt Damon to bring me breakfast in bed.

You're going to be stranded on a desert island:

Who do you take and why?

I would love one of those Hollywood-type dogs like RinTinTin. The kind that never die and understand your every word. They keep you warm at night, protect you from beasties, laugh at your jokes and cook the dinner.

Which book do you take, and why?

I never want to leave a book behind when I have just read it. It's like being forced to leave a dear friend. So if I'm stranded today I will have to take The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It's a startling piece of writing. I'm still in it.

Which food, and why?

Lemon meringue pies and lots of E numbers. They would last a long while, save me from scurvy and preserve me from the inside out.

Which movie?
It would have to be the film I have seen most and never tired of, Dirty Dancing. I have a whole host of favourite films but I think that one stands most repeated watching. I was actually an usherette for a while in my youth so saw the middle section many, many times over.

Tell us something no-one would guess about you

I'm a fairly open kind of person and so there is nothing that my close friends could not guess about me. But acquaintances cannot believe that I can be painfully shy. I cover it well with a kind of friendly bubbliness, and push myself into difficult situations to stretch myself: performing with my puppets, teaching yoga classes, dressing up as Marilyn Monroe... I guess I'm  an 'extroverted introvert'. Although part of me loves to perform and be centre stage, I'm mostly more comfortable spending my time alone. Or with a lemon meringue or two.

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Development, Alumni Relations and Engagement
Kingston University
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53–57 High Street
Kingston Upon Thames

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